ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO — During the Celebration of Life service last Friday, January 3, 2014. for Forrest Gerard, the first Assistant Secretary of the Interior – Indian Affairs, a letter from President Barack Obama was read by the the current Assistant Secretary of the Interior – Indian Affairs, Kevin Washburn.
Forrest Gerard (1925 – 2013)
Mr. Gerard was the architect of Indian Self-Determination that is today’s current federal polciy for American Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States.
Mr. Gerard passed away on Saturday, December 28, 2013. He was 88 years old. He was a tribal citizen of the Bleackfeet Tribe of Montana.
In addition to his role as the first Assistant Secretary of the Interior – Indian Affairs, Mr. Gerard spent two decades working in various capacities in government on behalf of Indian country, including the state of Montana, the newly formed Indian Health Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs as a legislative liaison officer, and the Director of the Office for Indian Progress in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.
The Native News Online has obtained a copy of President Obama’s letter from Mr. Gerard’s daugther, Patricia, who is happy to share it with Indian country.
The following is a the content of President Obama’s letter to the Gerard family:
Dear Gerard Family:
Michelle an dI were deply saddened to learn of Forrest’s passing, and we extend our heartfelt condolences to you at this difficult time.
Whether flying to free a continent in Wolrd War II, opening new doors at the Department of the Interior, or leading the fight for self-determination, Forrest served th United States of America faithfully and helped make ours a more perfect Union. While no words can ease the pain of your loss, I hope you take comfort in knowing his exceptional contributions to his community and his country will never be forgotten.
Please know I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.